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The War Nerd / January 19, 2009

I’ll talk about Gaza tomorrow, but I’ve got the day off and it’s not my idea of a good time. For now I’ll just say it turned out exactly like I said it would, but blecch, it’s not my idea of a good time and I’m not in the mood to gloat too much. So I’m going to purposely change the subject to this note I wrote myself on the way to work last week: “Supertrooper??? Not mil. @ all!! Column on misused mil. Lyrics”

What I meant to remind myself of there was to do a column on the need to pass a law against civilians using military language in their lyrics. Exhibit A here is those pacifist Swedes Abba, who got famous on a song called “Waterloo,” which I looked up once a long time ago and found it wasn’t about the battle at all. Naturally it’s about some personal-relationship deal, which is all those people have left now that Europe’s been gutted. As near as I can figure, the “Waterloo, finally facing my Waterloo” line means she’s about to give some Scandinavian guy what he wants, and she doesn’t really sound that sorry about it. But she’s pretending it’s a big defeat. Why? It’s not even honest.

For some reason every radio station on the dial now plays these Abba songs at commuter hours. Women taking over, I guess. They like this stuff. Which would be fine if Abba didn’t have this disgusting habit of taking decent military language and making it all obscene with this personal-relationship take. Like “Super troopers, lights are gonna find me” is one of them. I almost liked that at first because it reminded me of the beginning of Terminator, the flying death machines searching out the last humans while their automated tanks crunch over all the skulls left over from the big zap. That was such a beautiful scene, but if you listen to the song, the next line ruins everything. It goes “Super trooper, lights are gonna find me/But I won’t feel blue…” That was where it started to go wrong for me. How can you not feel blue if the death machines are hovering over you and their big spotlights have you picked out like one of those idiots who try to outrun the choppers on a cop show? It’s not like an optional feeling, Swedish lady. If SkyNet is about to bring you death from above, you pretty much have to feel blue unless you’re high, which these people probably were when they wrote this stuff in the 1970s.

But it turns out she’s not talking about warfare at all. She’s talking about some fan, or boyfriend-slash-fan I guess, because the next line says the reason she won’t feel blue is “Cuz somewhere in the crowd there’s you.” Now that really, really made me sick. In other words, by “trooper” she means like, “you’re a real trouper,” that line actors and other show people use on each other. So there’s no military application at all. And worse yet, she’s thanking her little boyfriend for standing out there in the crowd while she’s on center stage, getting all the attention. That’s not right. Not unless you’re Ike Turner maybe and you’ll take it out on her once you’re backstage.

So what I do when I come across these misapplications of military terminology on the car radio when I’m stuck in traffic is fix the lyrics for them. I actually tried to work out a better way to do the “Super Trooper” scenario last Thursday. What would a real guerrilla do if he had to deal with aerial surveillance by armed tracker-choppers? The last thing you’d want to do is shoot it out with them, unless you’ve got a stinger: “Super trooper, lights are gonna find me/But I’ve got a sting/This handy shoulder-fired thing….” But if you’ve got a stinger you’re one lucky guerrilla. Most of them have to make do with the usual kit, AKs and RPGs. In that case what you’d want to do is scatter in the short term, and in the long term, circle around and look for a soft target that would cripple or demoralize the air crews. So it would be more like “Super trooper, lights are gonna find me/But I’ll overrun their base/wipe the smiles right off their families’ face.”

I’m probably missing a lot of other songs most people know, like metal stuff. There are probably a million heavy metal songs about war, but I don’t really want to know because it’ll all be ignorant woofing, blood and guts, stoner babble. I stay away from most music because I don’t want to even know about that stuff. Ever since I was a kid, I stuck with the old songs. My favorite LP, that I played until the grooves were worn out, was one my parents got me for my birthday, “Songs of the Civil War.” I used to know every line of every song on that record, even when I had no idea what they were talking about. You could tell they were real soldiers’ songs because they were sort of cheerful and casual about it all: “Lay down boys and take a little nap/They’re kickin’ up a fuss in the Cumberland Gap.” That’s more like an enlisted man’s take on real war: the main thing is to get any sleep you can. But there’s that sort of echo of the big battles, if you know anything about the Cumberland Gap. Then there were the hardcore back-to-back songs from the North and South, “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Dixie.” I learned a lot about how the war worked in terms of propaganda from listening to those two songs. I don’t mean I figured it all out, because I was a slow, heavy kid who didn’t come up with bright remarks much. But it settled down into my brain and I knew the difference between North and South from the words to those songs. The North was pure New England righteousness, like the Bible with a bayonet on it, and anybody who gets in the way is gonna get cut. Even the title says that: “Battle Hymn.” You don’t find Quakers putting those two words together. All those punk and metal bands coming up with titles with military and religion in one name—they’re all just copying this song. I could imagine the boys in blue walking to the slaughter up Marye’s Heights to the tune of that unforgiving Congregationalist tune. That was when I liked God, in that song:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord
He is trampling out the vineyards where the grapes of wrath are stored
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword
His truth is marching on.

God damn, if the church had stuck with that version I’d still be in good standing. No mercy, just the tank treads crunching over skulls. I didn’t get it—see, that’s the point I’m trying to make here, kids don’t have to “get” the whole thing to smell, sort of, what’s going on. These parents you see who won’t let their kids watch anything that isn’t dumbed-down, they’re ruining their kids. Kids need to work on stuff that’s way over their heads. That’s how you get better. You think I “got” all the military histories I read as a kid? I didn’t understand half of what I was reading, and people laughed at me and said I was faking it, but I got enough to keep going, and it gave me a reason to get better.

Same thing with these lyrics. I didn’t figure out till later that the vineyard line comes from the New Testament and also probably temperance agitation, but I liked “trample.” As long as they were trampling it was OK with me. This wasn’t the Jesus they talked about on Sunday, your hippie nerd victim, this was the God of William Tecumseh Sherman and George Thomas. “His terrible swift sword.” “Fateful lightning.” Rolling on, over all resistance, all that justified wrath.

And then opposite that, there was “Dixie.” I mean, that’s one of the most beautiful songs ever. That’s the point. There’s no argument to it, like there was no real argument for the South, but you can see why they’d walk into minie balls anyway, listening to that slow “look away” part.

Wish I was in the land of cotton
Old times there are not forgotten

Like I said, I didn’t “get” the song like a grownup would, but it seeped into my head, the main point: old times there are not forgotten, it’s where you’re from, it doesn’t have to be logical or justified, it’s a place, a way of doing stuff. And you’d die for that. So just sitting there in the heat in Bakersfield with the trucks going by outside and my sister banging on the door, I’d play those two anthems back to back over and over, and believe me, I got that war: the enlisted men slacking off whenever they could and then fighting like devils, the prissy New England officers dying like flies for a god like a temperance lady with a stick up her ass, the southerners not in the mood to argue and not that good at it anyway, so they’d rather settle it the way Preston Brooks answered Charles Sumner on the floor of Congress. Sumner was so impressive and perfect and full of New England righteousness that he could’ve written “Battle Hymn of the Republic” himself, and he must have been sickening to be around, he was so in the right. He made a speech saying what a bunch of slave-owning scum the South was, which was all true, except it was their Dixie he was talking about, so Preston Brooks, this sort of Jeff Davis-lite looking guy, decided to make a witty reply with his cane. He beat Sumner mostly to death while Sumner was trapped at his desk, with one of his pals, a sleazy Lynyrd Skynyrd guy named Keitt holding everybody off with a pistol.

It was all there in the two songs. Nobody could answer all that righteousness; you either killed it or surrendered. That was like the background, the big picture, to all the other songs on that record. The rest was pure ant’s-eye view, the stuff that worried the guys left to sort it out, die or get maimed or come home heroes: scoring some loot (“eating goober peas”), feeling bad about mom (“Just Before the Battle”) and getting some shuteye while they kicked up a fuss in the Cumberland Gap.

That was America, that was the best time. And you want me to talk about Gaza? Blecch. I’ll get around to it, but give me a Monday off to swim around in a better war.

Gary Brecher is the author of the War Nerd. Send your comments to brecher@exiledonline.com.

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51 Comments

Add your own

  • 1. five to one  |  January 19th, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    good read

    change of pace, gaza can get to you sometimes

    feel a little sorry for you, spending your childhood enthusiasm like you did…

    you’re right about that thing that children need to be challenged to evolve thou. Most people who are really good at something “made their bones” so to speak practicing it against great opposition during childhood

    anyway good article, well written.

  • 2. Merc  |  January 19th, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Damn Brecher. You are so dead on in this one. Welcome to the US-Middle East mentality. On one hand you have the “We do it this way, so should you” Yanks, and on the other we have the “this land is our home” Muslims. Great choice of songs too Brecher, you give yourself too little credit. However, one must keep in mind that the North had the will and the economy to deal with the South, and Bush lacked both to deal with the Middle East. Obomba may have the will (prolly not, but I’ll be nice to him until he takes office) but Obomba sure ain’t got the economy.

  • 3. DocAmazing  |  January 19th, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Ah, the Brooks-Sumner debate! How very Southern! Thank you for reminding me of it–it used to be my answer to Southerners who blathered on and on about how gracious and civilized Southern mores were. Of course, this li’l California boy would from time to time simply engage them in a quick East Oakland colloquy, which resembled Brooks-Sumner but with an escape route for the spoken-to…

  • 4. Joe  |  January 19th, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    I like your writing, but there’s a small correction I’d like to add:

    A Super Trouper is a brand of spotlight, the intense, focused light that is trained on a performer by an operator. The Super Trouper is known for it’s solid design and was popular with touring. I myself handled a few in my career as a stage technician, and that was in the nineties, 20 years after that abba song, so they’ve been around a long time. I’d guess some are used even today.

    That’s also the reason they sing: “Super Trooper, lights are gonna find me”, it’s a line about being in the spotlight.

  • 5. AlanD  |  January 19th, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Love the War Nerd, and a bit ashamed this is my first post… But the Super Trooper in the Abba song is actually a stage spotlight. God knows how I know this, but ’tis true.

    Back on topic, the one analogy in Gaza which I keep thinking of is with Northern Ireland. The PIRA got plenty of votes in the North, and even won some seats in Parliament. And they killed many more Brits in England than Hamas’ rockets ever will in Israel. But you didn’t see the British shelling the Catholic slums in Belfast.

    What the Israelis have done seems not unlike the RAF/RN coming home from the Falklands in 1982 and using its (Sea) Harriers to drop HE on Catholic schools and churches in the six counties. While the Chieftain tanks pounded WP in for good measure.

    Discuss, as they say…

  • 6. uncle_radu  |  January 19th, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    I’m going to be obnoxious and request you do a piece on the great General Sherman.

    For me, as a northerner and a New Yorker, I have always considered General Sherman to be the greatest of the Union generals and a great American hero whose only fault was not burning ENOUGH shit down on his march through the south.

    The South is that spare unwanted chromosome in our national DNA. If only those righteously bloodthirsty abolitionists (and rightly righteous and bloodthirsty they were) hadn’t invented extermination camps 75 years early for those hillbilly scum, they would have solved a whole range of our country’s domestic problems in one fell swoop.

  • 7. TimH  |  January 19th, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    Mark Twain wrote hi sown Parody of the “Battle Hymn” in protest of teh US invasion of the Philipines

    Mine eyes have seen the orgy of the launching of the Sword;
    He is searching out the hoardings where the stranger’s wealth is stored;
    He hath loosed his fateful lightnings, and with woe and death has scored;
    His lust is marching on.

    I have seen him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;
    They have builded him an altar in the Eastern dews and damps;
    I have read his doomful mission by the dim and flaring lamps—
    His night is marching on.

    I have read his bandit gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
    “As ye deal with my pretensions, so with you my wrath shall deal;
    Let the faithless son of Freedom crush the patriot with his heel;
    Lo, Greed is marching on!”

    We have legalized the strumpet and are guarding her retreat;*
    Greed is seeking out commercial souls before his judgement seat;
    O, be swift, ye clods, to answer him! be jubilant my feet!
    Our god is marching on!

    In a sordid slime harmonious Greed was born in yonder ditch,
    With a longing in his bosom—and for others’ goods an itch.
    As Christ died to make men holy, let men die to make us rich—
    Our god is marching on.

    * NOTE: In Manila the Government has placed a certain industry under the protection of our flag. (M.T.)

  • 8. wengler  |  January 19th, 2009 at 9:04 pm

    Dixie is one of those cases where a song written by a northerner(and Unionist) for a minstrel show or all things became the Southern anthem. It’s like when people in the US started singing the Broadway song by George Cohan, Yankee Doodle Boy, based on an earlier song by the British calling Americans gay.

    Battle Hymn of the Republic on the other hand is a hardcore song. Ever since American historians threw the Union Army under the bus for a hundred years so the country could keep black people down the Union Army hasn’t got its due.

    I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
    “As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
    Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
    Since God is marching on.”

    Those New England descendants of Puritans thought of themselves as slaves to God, and they were willing to walk into frontal fire on many different occasions. They were as devoted as any religious crazy around these days. Hell, Sherman’s army lived off the land and basically went bushwhacking through four states.

    Now with the South hopefully relegated to decades of being a political backwater we can finally start once again honoring the army that freed the slaves and made it possible for a black president.

  • 9. vince  |  January 19th, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    You should check out “Maryland my Maryland”, still the state song despite calling Lincoln a “despot” among other things.

  • 10. Russians Are Scum  |  January 19th, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    I’ve been disappointed by the recent lack of commentary from the War Nerd- if there was ever a set piece that was perfect for a War Nerd rant, it’d be the latest Gaza incursion.

  • 11. Grimgrin  |  January 19th, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    The Battle Hymn of the republic is amazing. It makes me want to bayonet a Reb, and I’m a Canadian.

    Another verse:

    “I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
    “As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
    Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
    Since God is marching on.”

    It has a Book of Revalation quality to the language, a wild eyed religious crazy screaming doom for the unholy. The flip side of it is, the South had no fucking clue how lucky they were that the man in the white house didn’t think like this.

    “The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. … We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. ”

    Lincoln’s first Inaugural Address.

    If Lincoln had believed in his heart the sentiments of the Battle Hymn of the Republic today we’d speak about South Carolina the way we do about Carthage.

  • 12. Izy  |  January 20th, 2009 at 12:36 am

    Gary you are a king !!!

  • 13. Stanley Gardiner  |  January 20th, 2009 at 1:00 am

    I like television.

  • 14. martin ross  |  January 20th, 2009 at 4:09 am

    sorry to ruin a good theory, but the super trouper in the song is a light – a follow spot which someone moves to keep the star lit up bright. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Trouper_(spotlight). which makes the song a plea from a girl in the spotlight to a boy operating it. or something. still a sh*t song tho’

  • 15. Otto Zeimer  |  January 20th, 2009 at 4:36 am

    Gary, welcome aboard Kamerad. I grew up listening to banned Wehrmacht marsches! And that’s some of the best music around (i.e. the Luftwaffe Marsch, Graf Zeppelin Marsch and so on and so forth). I can bet my “German” Audi A4 car that this music beats the crap out of supertroopers feelin’ stoned-blue anytime.

    I remember, once that music saved my life from boring summer job near the Bush senior’s summer residential palace in Maine.

    And I must admin, I think much like you except the evident pro-Russian bias at Osetia conflict. I mean if Russians did want to help Osetians, they would let them have North Osetia as well.

    Cheer up, Kamerad, keep up the good work, makes my boring office day lighter!

  • 16. Warbuff  |  January 20th, 2009 at 6:08 am

    Why talk about Gaza anyway? It’s pretty much uninteressting.

    There were so many interesting wars happening the last couple of weeks but anybody was focused on a small shit place were they only produced a typical fake war number of casualties and everything is back to normal in a couple of days. Screw that!

    Let’s talk Africa or even Sri Lanka here (not that everything will be back to “the usual” in Sri Lanka, too. But at least it’ll take a year or two).

    Let us ignore those fucking Palis they don’t know how to die properly and let us ignore those fucking Israelis they don’t know how to kill properly. And they don’t wanna learn!

  • 17. Carpenter  |  January 20th, 2009 at 6:55 am

    Fact is, most songs like most movies are crap. But people don’t want to admit it, because their brains don’t work well enough to do without the background noise. People would have to be independent in their thinking, something that soon feels either dangerous or boring, depending on your IQ level.

    As for the South, they did have a case for going their own way: they didn’t want tariffs in their harbors to end up as funding for the Northern industrialists who bought Congressmen and presidents. In those days before the income tax, Southern ports were Washington’s main supply of grease-fuel. On top of that, noone can stand New Englanders. No case? That’s like saying Finland, Italy, Austria, Ireland or any other Western country wouldn’t have a case leaving the EU. Should we enjoy sending our money to Eastern Europe, while they send their excess labor/criminals to Western Europe? There’s always a case for secession when the center is rotten.

  • 18. Gustav  |  January 20th, 2009 at 11:06 am

    If you like songs about the Civil War, you’d love “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” by Canadian Robbie Robertson, first recorded by the Band in 1969.

    **********************************************
    Virgil Caine is my name and I drove on the Danville train
    ’til so much cavalry came and tore up the tracks again
    In the winter of ’65, we were hungry, just barely alive
    I took the train to Richmond that fell
    It was a time I remember, oh, so well

    The night they drove old Dixie down
    And all the bells were ringin’
    The night they drove old Dixie down
    And all the people were singin’
    They went, “Na, na, na, na, na, na, …. ”

    Back with my wife in Tennessee
    And one day she said to me,
    “Virgil, Quick! Come see!
    There goes Robert E. Lee.”
    Now I don’t mind, I’m chopping wood
    And I don’t care if the money’s no good
    Just take what you need and leave the rest
    But they should never have taken the very best

    The night they drove old Dixie down
    And all the bells were ringin’
    The night they drove old Dixie down
    And all the people were singin’
    They went, “Na, na, na, na, na, na, ….. ”

    Like my father before me, I’m a working man
    And like my brother before me, I took a rebel stand
    Oh, he was just 18, proud and brave
    But a yankee laid him in his grave
    I swear by the blood below my feet
    You can’t raise a Cane back up when he’s in defeat

    The night they drove old Dixie down
    And all the bells were ringin’
    The night they drove old Dixie down
    And all the people were singin’
    They went, “Na, na, na, na, na, na, ….. ”

    * * *

    Virgil Caine is the name and I served on the Danville train
    ‘Til Stoneman’s cavalry came and tore up the tracks again
    In the winter of ’65, we were hungry, just barely alive
    By May the tenth, Richmond had fell, it’s a time I remember oh so well

    The night they drove Old Dixie down and the bells were ringing
    The night they drove Old Dixie down and the people were singin’, they went
    La-la-la la-la-la, la-la-la la-la-la, la-la-la-la

    Back with my wife in Tennessee, when one day she called to me
    “Virgil, quick, come see, there goes Robert E. Lee!”
    Now I don’t mind choppin’ wood, and I don’t care if the money’s no good
    Ya take what ya need and ya leave the rest
    But they should never have taken the very best

    The night they drove old Dixie down and the bells were ringing
    The night they drove old Dixie down and all the people were singin’, they went
    Na-na-na na-na-na, na-na-na na-na-na, na-na-na-na

    Like my father before me, I will work the land
    And like my brother before me, who took a rebel stand

    He was just eighteen, proud and brave
    But a Yankee laid him in his grave
    I swear by the mud below my feet
    You can’t raise a Caine back up when he’s in defeat

    The night they drove old Dixie oown and the bells were ringing
    The night they drove old Dixie down and all the people were singin’, they went
    Na-na-na na-na-na, na-na-na na-na-na, na-na-na-na

    The night they drove old Dixie down and all the bells were ringing
    The night they drove old Dixie down and the people were singin’, they went
    Na-na-na na-na-na, na-na-na na-na-na, na-na-na-na

  • 19. Rayak  |  January 20th, 2009 at 11:19 am

    I wanted really to hear from the War Nerd about this one. If the Israeli got the Hamas ass wiped, then why we did not see the top guys in Hamas killed? or captured? Why the Israeli did not just demolished the tunnels and picked up trucks of those Hamas fighters? Why is Shalit is not out or at least his body is not back? Why Israel had to sign a strange agreement with us to prevent Hamas from smuggling weapons (as if we were ok with that before)? Many questions makes me think that what the israeli did was just a fluff move for internal consumptions by killing civilians and boost about that. Israel is in trouble. I can imagine all the people in the mideast thinking “Is this all what they can do for a little strip that is closed for 60 years by Israel/ and maybe more by Egypt without even enough food coming in, with a Hamastan that has only some AK47, and rusted RPG(s) with some firecrackers called Qasams ? Ooops

  • 20. Karnasaur  |  January 20th, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    I always enjoy your column, but you screwed up this time. Really badly, actually.

    ABBA never recorded a song called “Super Trooper.” You got the spelling wrong. They recorded “Super Trouper,” and the song makes perfect sense when you know that a “Super Trouper” is the brand name of a kind of spotlight that would have been used in concert by a band like ABBA in the late 1970′s.

    Here’s the company’s website http://www.strongint.com/ProductView.aspx?c=127&pindex=5

    Homophones can be a bitch!

  • 21. Lighty  |  January 20th, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Gary, you’re on a roll. It’s 1940 all over again.

  • 22. General Foods  |  January 20th, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Gary,

    While you’re on the music tip, here’s a little cover version from Laibach to cheer you up:

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=qm3LaqO-lAA

  • 23. internet anti-Zionists  |  January 20th, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Gaza turned out exactly like you said it would? Which Gaza is this you’re watching?

  • 24. Viking  |  January 21st, 2009 at 6:35 am

    I was raised Southern Baptist. They, the largest protestant denomination in America, split off from their northern bretheren over the issue of slavery. The Battle Hymn of the Republic is in the Baptist Hymnal under the name “Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory” or something like that. We’d sing it from time to time too, loud and enthusiasticly. We sang it in school assembly in Georgia. If 100 years later the enemey is singing YOUR fight song in THEIR house of worship and in the region that bore the brunt of the your army’s scorched earth campaign. Well you got one hell of a song. (Which is why it’s the fight song of The University of Georgia, I kid you not)

  • 25. CB  |  January 21st, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Anything but Gaza, eh? How about a Sri Lanka update? Please? Or am I going to have to wait until it’s all over…

    Viking, that’s a hilarious observation there. Also kinda adds another level of humor to the post saying that Sherman’s troops “lived off the land” and “bushwhacked” across several states… When the land you’re living off of, and are bushwhacking through, is inhabited then that’s not called “bushwhacking”, it’s called “burning and pillaging”.

    Not that I’m complaining.

  • 26. Warbuff  |  January 21st, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Gary Gary please do your next article about the Congo or Sri Lanka or some interesting place. Please don’t write about Gaza. It’s too fucking boring! I can’t stand this “oh the IDF used WP”, “oh the Pals are shooting bottle rockets at us”, “oh the IDF hit the UN” any more. It’s just boring and nobody should give a damn about fucking Gaza. So please bring something good, nice and new in your next column.

  • 27. rawtatoor  |  January 21st, 2009 at 6:43 pm

    Artist: Killarmy
    Song: War Face
    Album: Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars 1997

    “Why did you join my beloved core?”
    “Sir, to kill sir!”
    “So you’re a killer?”
    “Sir yes sir!”
    “Let me see your war face.”
    “Sir?”
    “You got a war face? Aaaahhh! That’s war face now let me see your war face.”
    “Aaaaahhhh!!”
    “Bullshit, you didn’t convince me. Let me see your real war face.”
    “AAAAAAAARRRRRHHHHHHH!!!!!!”
    “You don’t scare me, work on it!”

    Yeah
    Where the xxxx is your war face son?
    (Burning season niggas)
    Killarmy
    (It’s not safe no more nigga)

    Chorus: (2x)
    Yo I wanna see your war face
    Soldier where’s your war face?
    Camouflaged inmates collapse war gates

    [9th Prince]
    Yo, yo yo yo
    Check the Killarmy
    We go to war like tomahawks and Indians
    From the wilderness of our villages
    Desert commander live on the gorgeous fortress like the sorceress
    To build up my heritage
    Shaolin surrounded by the cruel sea, crabs get stabbed
    Chemistry lab is filled with motorous vocab
    That drive niggas crazy like Arabs in Manhatten cabs
    Lyrics heat up the airplay, give off shockwaves
    That damage the earways for centuries and decades
    I be a renegade through rainy days
    I collect guns to blast off like shooting stars
    Shot up the charts the soldiers from the dark
    Stabbin and gatherin dead in the xxxxxx heart
    A rhymin alcoholic, I’m bad for your liver
    Unidentified corpse’s thrown in the Ohio River
    I’m psychotic in the tropic
    Bullets spark through bulletproof shields of narcotics
    Killarmy be runnin train on Bobby Steels’ tracks
    Lyrical poems xxxx back with sharp tacks laced with ajax

    Chorus

    [Shogun Assasson]
    Here’s the pure and uncut war poems from ancient zones
    The black Hitler, killer riddler breakin bones
    Explosive, overdose the track coast to coast
    My shockwaves to keep the thoughts bright like sunrays
    My forte is of a higher rank like sensei
    Militant, armed to killin and shake the settlement
    Searchin crevaces for a wise man’s testament
    Roll hotly bludgeonin all those competitin
    Against I but stimulate ya of life and matter
    Cloak and dagger, first I gag ya then stab ya
    The apprehender, plus I move like a ninja
    No retreat and no surrender
    My war agenda

    [Cloud 9]
    Live via satellite, soldiers with mics
    Ancient warriors fight, barbarians swingin swords
    Killarmy militant warlords
    Military war slang who’s to blame
    Government officials, evil minds that govern this land gotta plan
    For the blacks and the tans
    Decrease the population of the rhythm nation
    By one fourth, wicked niggas is the source
    To the force I bring forth causes havocs, sparks bloody riots
    Seven days and seven nights of blue street fights
    Like boo took all the shells from automatics
    Strategic tactics
    Caught between rhymes, lines combine to blow up like landmines

    [Beretta 9]
    I strike on universal fish, I’m out the clear mist
    Relentless, beat a nigga senseless
    Niggas best to witness
    At how I gets to business, soldier from the trenches
    My offense be my defense with military sequence
    Quick to apprehend ya, kid you best remember
    Camouflage avenger, Killarmy nigga
    Surrender your garments and your legal tender
    Fatigued ninja with silent triggers

    Chorus (2x)

    [Killa Sin]
    Yo, I crack chest cavities
    Be shatterin knees while bladders bleed
    Gat’ll squeeze, it’s a merciless form of my formalities
    I locked down south with hip hop doses of death
    Within my breath that I drop to make your heart stop
    You can’t cope with this vocal dope that’ll corrode your throat
    Yet alone make a local choke
    I strip niggas of they manhood because I’m no damn good
    And roll with a Killa Wu Clan in the hoods
    Attack vitals, suicidals, leavin idols
    Is a record through the land of the lost with the 4th Disciple
    Stifle enemies, come test
    Twenty one in your chest
    Killa blessed em with a bloody vest

    Chorus (2x)

  • 28. John  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 2:55 am

    Sabaton’s about as decent as war metal gets.
    It’s not as inspiring as the Battle Hymn of the Republic, but it’s not completely terrible either.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GEb-fcYQ0Q
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Y9ZQsAgveI
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z075LB4vtso
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhAf4hGlxHk

  • 29. Old Reb  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    @ Uncle_Radu

    Bite me, damnyank. Slavery was a great evil and I wish it had never happened (and I notice northerners don’t like to think about how the New England shipowners profited by hauling humans to America for sale), but your caricaturization of southerners is pisspoor at best. We left the Union and desired naught but peace, but like a mean drunk demanding his wife obey -or else – your valiant boys in blue invaded our lands to force us back in.

    As far as the South being a political backwater, y’all might want to look at the demographic shift of the past couple decades – or the empty, broke cities of the Rust Belt. I’ve seen the north and NYC – including a Rebel flag flying on the shores of Lake Ontario, oddly enough – and I prefer the South. So do lots of other damnyanks, it seems.

  • 30. ccL1  |  January 23rd, 2009 at 12:10 am

    Gary Brecher? I bought your book last week! I’ve been a fan for a few months now.

    In any case, I regret to inform you that General Laurent Nkunda has been arrested in Rwanda.

    This is not a good day.

  • 31. Viking  |  January 23rd, 2009 at 8:48 am

    Reb, with all due respect, (and remember I’m southern too) the south shot first. It was a preemptive shot sure, but look how well that turned out for us in a few other places.

    Anyway I can top the rebel flag in lake Ontario, I’ve seen them all over Russia.

  • 32. Plamen Petkov  |  January 23rd, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Rayak, you got it square between the eyes. Gary’s articles have been steadily going down in quality. Of course he isn’t going to write about Gaza. It’s pretty obvious he doesn’t know shit about the real situation in Gaza, considering where he lives and what type of media he is watching. Remember his crappy Greece riots article?

    Maybe exiledonline should consider hiring YOU instead to write some articles for them. You got MY vote.

  • 33. pakk  |  January 23rd, 2009 at 10:46 am

    I have my own theory that the same people who make good cotton farmers also make good soldiers. It has been true for the Confederates, for the Uzbeks (the guys really kicked some ass in the Afghan Wars of the 90′s), for Rhodesian whites, to mention a few. It’s because cotton is quite a ‘complicated’ crop compared to any other. You spend all your time & energy on it, and there’s no reward guaranteed AT ALL. Price fluctuations are terrible, and above all you can’t eat it.

    This is also why office workers can’t be good soldiers – because they believe the whole world owes them something by the right of birth.

  • 34. Daath  |  January 23rd, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Gaza turned out pretty much like Brecher said. Sure, Hamas didn’t take all that many direct hits, because it hid, but hiding from enemy has a nasty way of making you look like a total weakling. Israel didn’t really win, I think, but Hamas lost.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7843633.stm

  • 35. Someone in Pittsburgh  |  January 24th, 2009 at 4:37 am

    Off topic from this article…

    No! Not Nkunda! :(

  • 36. Yakov  |  January 25th, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Has there EVER been a song that hasn’t been ruined by examining the lyrics?

  • 37. worldsedge  |  January 25th, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    All of this “Battle Hymn of the Republic” discussion and not one mention of its ORIGINAL lyrics, as “John Brown’s Body.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Brown%27s_Body#Lyrics

    @ 22, I sincerely, deeply doubt that either version would’ve been welcome in the CSA.

  • 38. Ciaran  |  January 27th, 2009 at 12:41 am

    Dear War Nerd: “super troopers” are a form of stage lighting. That’s why she’s referring to the lights finding her. It’s mostly a variation on the old “bummer, I’m on tour, I miss my baby” theme. Not really a military reference at all. Just thought you should know.

    P.S. Why you’re not eviscerating Wilco over “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” is beyond me.

  • 39. JSJ  |  January 27th, 2009 at 7:15 am

    http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/World-News/Nigeria-Police-Arrest-A-Goat-Over-Attempted-Armed-Robbery/Article/200901415210650?lpos=World_News_News_Your_Way_Region_6&lid=NewsYourWay_ARTICLE_15210650_Nigeria_Police_Arrest_A_Goat_Over_Attempted_Armed_Robbery

    If Swedes can be pop-stars, then goats can be carjackers… ;)

  • 40. kos  |  January 27th, 2009 at 7:38 am

    Gary,
    The way you talk about the Civil War songs you used to like so much as a kid reminds me of my own teenage affection – Vladimir Vysotsky, an iconic russian songwriter/singer/actor of the 70s (and 80s, after he died. He wrote many great songs including quite a few about the WWII some of which are now available in English (surprisinly with little being lost in translation). V.V. was enourmously popular with the WWII vets although he himself never faught that war. Here are a couple of my favorites I thought you might like, too.

    Stars

    This bloody battle I got on the brain -
    Death our names was calling…
    And from the sky, like a soundless rain,
    Stars kept on falling.

    Another went down and I wished not to die,
    Not to be killed in that action…
    That’s how my life to the star I could tie -
    A stupid connection…

    We were pushed forward, they ordered us: ”Fight!
    Spare no shells, no soldiers!”
    Here the second star fell from its height
    Straight on your shoulders.

    This shooting was over and luck took my part -
    Seems like I’ve drawn three sevens…
    Here a stray star shot me in the heart
    Straight from the heavens…

    Stars in the sky are like fish in the sea -
    Each man can get his packet…
    Had I not fallen I’d also receive
    A star on my jacket.

    I could have given this star to my boy -
    Come, sonny, fetch it…
    A star in the sky shines so timid and coy -
    There’s no one to catch it…

    © George Tokarev. Translation, 2001
    Edited by Robert Titterton

    (The line “We were pushed forward, they ordered us: ”Fight! Spare no shells, no soldiers!”” is about the common practice of SMERSH pushing the troops to fight and shooting on the spot those who would turn their backs)

    The black jackets

    The failures and sunsets – that’s all that we commonly share,
    And yet no rise so far to improve such a terrible plight.
    I want to believe that the black jackets we have to wear
    Will give us tomorrow the chances to see the sunlight.

    Today we were told “You should die like heroes, brothers”.
    O.K. We will try it, we’re going to see what is on…
    I only decided, while smoking the shag of the others:
    “Each plays on his own – tomorrow I must see the dawn”.

    A special battalion – a sapper is specially proud!
    Don’t jump on my back from the branches to stab me or stun,
    In vain all the efforts, ‘cause even if I am knocked out,
    I’ll see, however, – I’m certain – the rise of the sun.

    We crawled through the rear not stabbing them that early hour,
    The pass in the wires was made and I saw in a trice -
    So green and so feeble yet smart and keen-witted sunflower
    Already had turned its small head towards the rise.

    It’s now six-thirty! Between life and death we still hover,
    We hope to rise from the failures that were base and vile!
    My teeth, like a vice, hold two wires, unclean and uncovered -
    I saw no sunrise but felt – it would rise in a while!

    The squad’s coming back but no more than a quarter’s returning…
    Yet this doesn’t matter, what matters – the fort had been blown!
    I want to believe that the black job we did in the morning
    Will later on let you see freely the dawn!

    * Black jackets were the uniform for the penalty battalions
    in the Soviet Army during the World War II.
    Convicts from jails and other people,
    punished for anything, were sent to these battalions.
    These troops were ruthlessly used in the most desperate
    operations. 98% of the black jackets were killed.

    © George Tokarev. Translation, 2001
    Edited by Robert Titterton

    Here is the link in case you would like more… http://www.wysotsky.com/1033.htm

    P.S. I can’t wait to hear your take on the Nkunda’s “arrest”

  • 41. Butters McGinty  |  January 29th, 2009 at 1:45 am

    Nu Mr Brecher, so where is it already?

    I live in Tel Aviv and your analyses keep me sane.

  • 42. nobody  |  January 29th, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    You forgot the obvious one…

    Can you hear the drums Fernando?
    I remember long ago another starry night like this
    In the firelight fernando
    You were humming to yourself and softly strumming your guitar
    I could hear the distant drums
    And sounds of bugle calls were coming from afar

  • 43. Oksana  |  February 2nd, 2009 at 12:31 am

    Hey Gary
    little Oksana misses you. I don’t care about Gaza, but wanna write an article on Nkunda?

    I bought your book – two copies of it actually, one for a friend who didn’t give a shit about it, but to me it’s better than meth – so can’t say I don’t support you.

  • 44. OrangePlus  |  February 3rd, 2009 at 11:24 am

    What happened, did peace break out? Where’s my new War Nerd posts?

  • 45. Alan Millar  |  February 5th, 2009 at 12:43 am

    OT Request: Love your ability to cut through the hysterical moral, nationalistic descriptions of conflicts.

    I’d love to see your take on the Angolan civil war – particularly the battle of Cuito Carnivale (isn’t that a great name?), which the South Africans and the Angolans simultaneously claimed as decisive victories.

  • 46. jaysan  |  February 5th, 2009 at 6:21 am

    Hi Gary,

    You’re only talking about Gaza these days. What about Sri Lanka? That’s another big one in the news. How about some opinions on that?

  • 47. Nkunda  |  February 5th, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Do not ever, ever piss me off, Brecher.

  • 48. Lexington Green  |  May 1st, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    One of your best yet.

    “…it settled down into my brain and I knew the difference between North and South from the words to those songs. ”

    Only quibble: Words AND the MUSIC of the two songs.

    The Yankees take things very seriously. They are on a mission — a noble mission, based on duty and a vision.

    The Southerners have a lightheartedness, an easygoingness, but that is the surface over a hard pride and love their homes and their ways, including being masters of their slaves.

    As a child I heard both songs, and I agree, something beyond words sinks into you about the war, but it is the combination of sound and words that does it.

  • 49. bachelor  |  July 30th, 2009 at 5:41 am

    pity stop attacking abba if you don’t like them don’t talk about them
    there’s no more stupid lyrics than the john lennon imagine wich makes me sick with all the crap in it
    without any religion we will be like neanderthal or cromagnon
    it’s not religion that brings war ,it’s stupid guys who listen to more stupid people or women !

  • 50. pub  |  September 19th, 2009 at 7:11 am

    Drive by — just wanted to say you’re such a hatemonger and so are your fans. Go kill yourselves.

  • 51. tom  |  August 30th, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    how about the song 40 to 1 by Sabaton. Swedish power metal, about the Battle of Wizna

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivgCD31iKyg


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